How to Preserve a Fatberg
– Museum of London, April 2018
Since you’ve decided this Chimera of Muck
is worthy of display, you’ll need to prepare
your kit, get together an A-Team crack squad
with strong stomachs and seriously
inadequate senses of smell.
You’re going to need tools, lots of tools,
to circumvent the stools and stench.
Step into these waders – your saviours;
don this gas mask – and don’t ask.
Avoid any visible skin, because
the bacteria are having a par-tay
down here – and you’ve gate-crashed.
Descend. Enter this brick-lined
Victorian id; their gift
for keeping everything beneath
the Powder Rooms. This is the Lair
of the Fatberg, the Realm of the Reek,
everything we wish would just vanish
is here – every flush and dump,
every discarded parp, each tissue
and morning after. Perhaps you’ll notice
it take a shape as its crusts cling
to the masonry: a face, perhaps –
a figure. You’re going to need to save
just a bit of it, or nobody will believe you;
even though every cotton-bud, every moist
wipe, every tampon, is evidence of
some body. So grip your pick-axe,
your shovel, your pen. We’re going
to be here a while.
Caleb Parkin is a poet, performer, artist, facilitator, educator & filmmaker, based in Bristol. His career has encompassed media production, education, the arts, and their therapeutic/wellbeing applications – these days, he works with schools, museums, science centres, universities, and more.
His work has appeared in The Rialto, Poetry Review, Atticus Review, Moving Poems, Folia, Eyedrum Periodically and other publications in print, online & performance. He was second prize-winner in the National Poetry Competition 2016, shortlisted in The Rialto Open Pamphlet Competition 2016, commended in the Ware Open Poetry Competition 2016, and first place in the Winchester Poetry Prize 2017.
He’s in the dissertation year of an MSc in Creative Writing for Therapeutic Purposes with Metanoia Institute, holds professional membership of the National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE), and is a Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA).
You can read more about his online and print publications here: